Sunday, August 4, 2013

Welcome to Tarifa

Pauline Gauffier, Philippe Verborgh and Nicholas Macfarlane
mount a 4 element directional antennae on the RV Elsa to
track the tags on the whales
36h to our good weather window.  That's what we saw when we arrived in Tarifa after a sleepless couple of days, a red-eye flight across the Atlantic and a 2.5h drive maneuvering our huge amount of equipment from the airport. Good weather is extremely rare, so we have to take advantage of it. 

There is an insane amount of preparation to do before we can head out, and the clock is ticking.

First there's all the logistical stuff:  We have to move into our apartment and pay for it which means changing money-- a non-trivial thing to do in Spain during the month of August when everyone is on vacation. Then we have to buy food and water and all the essentials we need to live and work for a month.  We need to reconnect with our collaborators who we haven't seen since January and make sure we're all on board for our first day on the water. Gear we've left has to be taken out of storage and accounted for, and our ship needs to steam up from the port of Algeciras, 2h away.  

Testing the suction of the DTAGs on our bathroom mirror
We use an enormous amount of very sensitive gear, and we have to do a whole host of things with our equipment before it can be used: every single piece needs to be carefully put together and checked, calibrated, charged, synchronized and in some cases even built.  This year we are using several new kinds of electronics, and they all need to be tested extra carefully before we can deploy them.  Single mistakes could jeopardize our expedition, so despite the time crunch, there's a huge amount of pressure to do everything right.


Oh, and somewhere along the way we have to try and sleep.

Nicholas Macfarlane

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